September 30, 2023

Recipient of NAWLEE Scholarship Dedicates Career to Breaking Barriers

Jennifer Cross of Topeka, Kansas is the recipient of the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE) scholarship. The scholarship will cover up to 60 hours in her chosen degree program at CSU.

Cross says she plans to pursue her master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis in criminal justice administration. Her ultimate career goal is to become the first female chief of the Topeka Police Department.

“Not having a master’s degree impacts my ability to advance further with the agency,” she said. “Assistance in addressing the financial barrier will allow me to concentrate my efforts on making the time necessary to complete my studies.”

Cross, a mother of three, is dedicated to her career in law enforcement and strives to break the barriers she says many female officers face.

“One of the biggest and most consistent barriers for females in law enforcement in earning respect and advancing on merit in a male-dominated field,” she said. “With my work ethic and attention to detail, I have become known as the ‘fix-it’ person and have often been moved to the areas that are struggling the most. I have earned the respect of the officers who report to me, as well as those higher in my chain of command.”

Cross has seen her share of trying times in her career and often looks for ways to provide improvement and resources during difficult circumstances.

“The most difficult and unique challenge I have faced during my career was the murder of three fellow officers. After this incident happened, I noticed officers struggling with the loss and with their own mortality. I suggested a peer-support program, which was designed to inform officers of correct information and provide support during emergency situations,” she said. “I was [also] appointed as the police department’s liaison to the family members as funeral arrangements were made. This challenge is something that I never thought I’d have to deal with in my career, and I have had to learn how to not only keep myself going, but provide leadership and support to others.”

We are proud to have Officer Cross as part of the CSU Knight family.


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